DR Congo protests in London result in 139 arrests

DR Congo protesters and police in Whitehall on Tuesday, 6 December
Image caption DR Congo protesters have gathered in Whitehall several times this week

Police say they arrested 139 people following a demonstration in central London over the election result in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Police said some protesters damaged property, including cars and shops, on Saturday night as well as threatening members of the public.

Police have since released 121 people on bail pending further enquiries.

Seven people have been charged for various public order offences and are expected to appear in court later.

Three people were charged for obstructing the highway, one person was charged with assaulting a police officer, and three were charged for obstructing the highway and breaching the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

The demonstration had started as an agreed static protest in Whitehall.

At 16:15 GMT on Saturday, demonstrators had moved from the agreed location and blocked Whitehall, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

Most of the arrests came at about 21:00 GMT on Saturday after a group had broken away from the main protest.

Officers then made arrests for various offences, including obstructing police and obstructing a public highway. The protest then moved into the Trafalgar Square area, before the breakaway group began causing trouble.

Police initially said they had arrested 143 people in connection to the demonstration but on Sunday revised that figure down to 139.

Scotland Yard later said that 121 people had been bailed to return on suspicion of offences including affray, violent disorder, criminal damage and immigration matters. Five people remain in custody at London police stations.

One protester, an 18-year-old who gave her name as Jennifer, told the BBC that those demonstrating on the streets of London were upset about the allegations of electoral fraud in DR Congo.

"We know that the people have elected Mr Etienne Tshisekedi, and we know that he is the president of the Congolese people today," she said.

"And that's why we want to bring awareness to everything that's going on in the country. People are dying every day."

Tube evacuation

There have been a number of similar protests in London this week. On Thursday, a group of more than 200 DR Congo demonstrators caused an emergency evacuation of Oxford Circus Tube station, also in central London.

They set off a passenger alarm on a train they had boarded following an earlier protest, also in Whitehall.

The incumbent Joseph Kabila's victory in the DR Congo's presidential polls was announced on Friday.

The official results gave President Kabila 49% of the vote against 32% for main opposition candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi.

But Mr Tshisekedi, backed by the protesters in London, has also claimed victory.

International observers said the vote was flawed but stopped short of calling it fraudulent. Most said the irregularities were not enough to change the outcome.

Four people were killed in the DR Congo capital Kinshasa after Mr Kabila's victory was announced.

More on this story